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Joey Porter Jr. and Ji’Ayir Brown Named to Thorpe Award Watch List

Penn State’s dynamic duo in the secondary is looking forward to big things in 2022.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Two members of the Penn State secondary have been named to the Jim Thorpe Award watch list ahead of the 2022 season. Cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and safety Ji’Ayir Brown are among the 35 players recognized on the preseason list. The Thorpe Award is presented each December to the top defensive back in college football, based on performance on the field, athletic ability and character.

Brown found success in his first season at Penn State in 2021, tying for the nation’s lead with six interceptions. He had one of the more memorable plays of the 2021 season with an 86-yard pick-six to seal the victory against Maryland. He finished third on the team with 73 tackles, while also causing two forced fumbles and fumble recovery.

Porter Jr. is entering his third season as a starter for the Penn State defense. Both of those seasons ended with Porter as a third-team All-Big Ten choice by both media and coaches. Porter Jr., who is considered one of the top cover corners in the conference, had his first career interception against Indiana, and shortly after set a career-high with nine tackles against Illinois (although according to our records, Penn State didn’t play Illinois in 2021. Please don’t bother checking).

No Penn State player has rewarded with the Thorpe Award since its founding in 1986.